Salsa-Black Bean Dip

…for garlic lovers only

I’m not a football fan. At this point in my life, I don’t think it’s going to change. I’m occasionally somewhat nasty or worse about it, but skip that here because in the U.S., if there’s a get together on any Sunday afternoon in January or early February, it’s likely to involve football. Hmm. The Super Bowl (February 13, 2022–6:30 pm ET) is coming like a freight train barreling down the track to your family room as well as to your kitchen and mine. So just to get my two cents in, I usually make a concerted effort to at least add something tasty and even healthy to the game day food lineup. This year, it’s an addictive, pantry-centric southwestern black bean dip that’s perfect with a cold beer at kickoff or even for dinner some other time. (Why can’t we have dip for dinner? I think we can. I’ll write you a note.)

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Sheet Pan Rosemary Pork Tenderloin with Lemon-Parmesan Brussels Sprouts and Potatoes

It might seem as if food bloggers cook all day long every day, but it’s not exactly so. While I cook more than most people (otherwise I’d have to clean house or organize my closet or something), there are days I need a good meal but am not much in the mood for standing around watching anything bubble on the stove. Like you, I lazily cast around for something requiring little to no work that gets tossed into the oven or slow cooker so I can read a sleazy novel or play the piano–my other favorite guilty pleasures. Someone like you might watch a football game or perhaps create a crossword puzzle, an engaging but oh-so-difficult task. Try it sometime. So glad my teaching junior high English days are long over.

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HAM AND BROCCOLI QUICHE: Cleaning out the Christmas Kitchen

How you can help—or get help—after the Marshall Fire

To make a tiny flute on the edges of the dough like this, use the side of your thumb instead of the pad of your index finger.

Away from home and in an airbnb for two weeks at holiday time could be a recipe for disaster for many cooks. Dull knives, warped and nicked non-stick pans, dollar store utensils, and no pantry but for the ubiquitous old oil, salt, pepper, and weak coffee are the earmarks of many rental home kitchens. There are the rare gems stocked to the nth degree with nearly everything of which you could hope to find in your dream kitchen including All-Clad waffle irons, Breville food processors, Henckel knives, Italian coffee, and, of course, the most spacious of air fryers and instant pots. I’ll give you that, but such happy deals are few and far between and are usually in upscale houses for big groups. Having rested our poor weary heads in a large variety of these smaller houses over the years — often with friends — we come prepared. A small bag of our favorite spices makes the journey with us along with a whisk, a pastry blender, one great knife, a stovetop grill pan, a pie plate, and even a big soup pot if we’re going by car. While the store sometimes (but not always) sells nearly everything you’d want, it’s best to bring a few things along to avoid what might otherwise look like the largest grocery bill of your life. Even then, be prepared for the sticker shock that moves many vacation folks to skip cooking and head to restaurants. While we’d do a bit of that in good times, we’re currently avoiding restaurants like the plague. To coin a phrase. On the road, we do a drive-through at lunchtime in the winter, but are tossing meals into a cooler along with a nice bottle of wine for in-hotel-room dinners. No searching for take-out in the cold and dark and the dogs are happy to stretch out on the floor hoping for dropped crumbs from something way more interesting than grilled chicken sandwiches. Sorry, Wendy’s.

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Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread

I know without question I cannot bake and cook at the same time. Disaster awaits. Or at the very least, serious unhappiness. There must be either a baking morning and a cooking afternoon or some variation thereof. This doesn’t mean I won’t stir up a pan of cornbread while my beans finish cooking at 5:30 or that I’d refuse to bake cookies if the slow cooker was on. No, no, no–not at all. But it does mean I shouldn’t be chopping and adding ingredients to a soup and think I can also whip up a loaf or two of quick bread in the the short minutes between soup chores. Because if I do, the bread will be missing its cinnamon, for instance, or in this case, its very necessary salt. And I might serve the soup without making sure all of its ingredients were just as tender as they should be. Which I did — and sent it to ill neighbors like that. (I hope the carrots weren’t crunchy. God, Alyce.)

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Garlic Cream Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole

When folks “talk turkey” about holiday dinners, they, in fact, don’t talk much about turkey. Or ham. (Though they might if it’s roast beef.) They instead remember sides or desserts. Nonna’s baked ziti. Oma’s sauerkraut. Dad’s gravy. Aunt Susan’s pumpkin pie. Because of that, the menu is often a done deal. Who can fight history? As a longtime Thanksgiving cook (I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner at 24 hugely pregnant with my first child), I pore over each year’s November magazines and keep Thanksgiving cookbooks on my coffee table from September on–always interested in finding something new to dream about. You can well imagine it’s my favorite holiday.

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Thanksgiving-An Intimate View (Redux)

This post is an update from a Thanksgiving post in 2009 and features new text/ photos, printable recipes, and more.

While some Americans are having a larger Thanksgiving, quite a few are again limiting numbers and thinking about a smaller menu. A turkey roulade (roo-LAHD) — a rolled up, stuffed turkey breast served up with a pan or two of roasted vegetables is for just that more intimate occasion and will serve 1-2 with plenty of leftovers, 4 with some, and 6 without much at all in those pesky where-are-the-lids Tupperware containers. (You can double it all for a larger group if need be, but do plan on more time. I also include a couple of other options for one-pan sides.) With some prep, this beautiful meal goes into the oven all together and is done in less than an hour — which makes it a lovely small dinner party menu as well. If you can get a boned turkey breast and don’t have to bone it yourself, you are way ahead of the game. Not Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes and gravy or …? You can surely add other dishes though you don’t need them. (See TIPS below for links to Brussels sprouts I made, gravy without drippings, my spicy cranberry sauce, etc.) Easily purchased appetizers and a bakery pumpkin pie help give you most of the day off, a lot less dish washing, and time to watch “Home for the Holidays,” with Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, and Charles Durning– one of my favorite Thanksgiving movies. No movies, but want music? Here are some listening ideas.

Note: While this meal is basically gluten-free, do check all purchased ingredients, including turkey, for GF labels. Our Honeysuckle frozen turkey breast did not contain gluten, but other brands might.

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Apple-Pecan Pie

When fall finally arrives (not sure it’s here yet), it’s time to bake again — and by November, it’s time to think of baking for Thanksgiving and Christmas. If I am anything in life, I am a pie baker. I’m not a county fair blue ribbon winner, but I’m something better — I’m the person folks like to see walking into their house or the church potluck with a pie basket on her arm. It wasn’t always that way, but pie baking is a progressive art or one that is a lifelong undertaking. I began with pies that didn’t taste badly, but were pale and puny at best and were luckily called out by older, experienced pie bakers in the mid-70’s. (“You could have left that in the oven a while longer.”) Even now, hundreds and hundreds of pies later, there’s the occasional crust that won’t hold together, for example, and gets ceremoniously dumped straight into the garbage can. It doesn’t faze me anymore, but pies continue to be educational as long as you’re willing to bake them. If you don’t bake one for a while and then assume you’ll be fine, that pie may or may not bake into something worth eating with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.

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Creamy Pumpkin-Peanut Soup

Every once in a while, it’s time to cook up an old recipe on the blog, take new photos, and tweak the dish up to today’s standard. That’s exactly what happened the other day with the blog’s very first pumpkin soup from way back in November, 2009. With my book club meeting in my living room last Thursday, I thought I’d move away from the same-old, same-old cheese and whatever….and make a soup I could serve in coffee mugs along with the glass of wine we enjoy. Change = good. I looked at the not few pumpkin soups I’ve blogged and settled on the simple, but fun 12-year-old version that is finished off with peanuts and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. As I sometimes will, I tried making it right from the original recipe, which is so old it’s not even printable. While good, it needed perking up, thickening, and expanding. I was amazed, though, to see how readable the recipe was even then. That’s not to say it didn’t need editing and redoing. It did.

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